Tag Archive | "Kevin Kouzmanoff"

Making their impressions early in Spring Training

This early in spring training, it’s sort of unusual for the Kansas City Royals to have so many lineup and pitching positions already set with potentially good players. In springs past, the Royals usually had several players fighting for roster spots and many times the players who made the roster were marginal at best.

Even though spring training games just started, a few of the lesser-known Royals players have made their impressions. Some are good. Some, not so good.

Starting pitcher Luis Mendoza is making his case for a spot in the starting rotation. In last Sunday’s Cactus League debut against the Texas Rangers, Mendoza threw 36 pitches, giving up an infield hit, a walk and no runs over two innings, contributing to a Royals 6-1 victory.

Mendoza, 28, bounced around with the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers over an 11-year professional career before figuring it out in AAA Omaha last year. Mendoza is out of options and the Royals are taking a long look to see if he can fill a spot in the starting rotation. What happens over the next few starts will determine if he makes the starting rotation, goes to Omaha or another Major League club picks him up if he goes on waivers.

Another Royals player making the most of his opportunities is third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. In the second game against the Rangers, Kouzmanoff came off the bench and hit a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Royals a 7-6 win over the Rangers.

A year or two ago, Kouzmanoff might have been the Royals starting third baseman, especially with Alex Gordon’s struggles at third. But with Mike Moustakas solidly at third base, the 30 year-old Kouzmanoff knows he’ll likely be in Omaha unless Moustakas gets hurt. Kouzmanoff can opt out of his contract if he’s not on the Major League roster by May 1. If he has a good spring and returns to his early career form, another Major League team might give Kouzmanoff a chance.

In the Tuesday split-squad game against the San Diego Padres, catcher Max Ramirez belted two home runs as the designated hitter, contributing to the Royals 7-4 win. Then in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, Ramirez smacked a two-run single in the ninth.

With Manny Pina recovering from knee surgery, the 27 year-old Ramirez has an opportunity to be the Royals backup catcher over current incumbent Brayan Pena. Being a non-roster invitee, Ramirez will need to keep playing well to make the Royals roster.

Another player who wants to make a good impression is starting pitcher Zach Miner. Well, maybe next time. In Miner’s spring training debut, the right-hander gave up a three-run homer, three hits, a walk and threw two strikeouts over 1.2 innings in a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. It’s only Miner’s first start and he will have plenty of chances to win a spot in the Royals starting rotation. And if not, there’s always Omaha.

Reliever Jeremy Jeffress pitched a scoreless inning in the Tuesday split-squad game against the Indians. While Jeffress had a solid outing, it’s his off-field issues which are a concern. This January, Jeffress was charged with three counts of domestic assault, criminal damage and disorderly conduct after an argument with his girlfriend in Surprise, AZ. The first two charges were dismissed and Jeffress was sentenced to 20 hours of community service for the disorderly conduct charge and required to attend a domestic-violence counseling class. Jeffress did not physically assault his girlfriend and apologized to the Royals and their fans for the incident.

Everyone makes mistakes and the best way to overcome mistakes is to learn from them. But Jeffress has already served a 50 game suspension in 2007 and a 100 game suspension in 2009 for testing positive for marijuana. Another failed drug test will be a lifetime ban from baseball. The 24 year old right-hander will need to make a good impression this spring to make the Royals bullpen. For now, the Royals stand behind Jeffress and he appears to be making the effort to do better on and off the field. For Jeffress sake, let’s hope he does.

To be honest, these players could have one of the best springs in their careers and still not break camp with the Royals. In past years, these players would have a good chance to make the Major League roster. But with the Royals depth, it’s likely these players will end up in Omaha. And for the Royals and their fans, that’s a good thing.

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Spring Training Report #3: Let the Games Begin

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Kansas City Royals are just two games into the spring season, but already have shown a winning attitude.  They dominated the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers in a 6-1 win to open the year, and used a late rally to win 7-6 in their second game.

Many former Naturals have been a part of the team’s early spring success.  Johnny Giavotella scored two runs in the first game, while Mike Moustakas had a pair of hits and an RBI in game one.  Giavotella continues to have the upper hand in the battle with Chris Getz to be the Royals starting second baseman, but Getz has shown a better ability to drive the ball so far this spring.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, a non-roster invitee to spring training, capped the 6-5 win in game two with a two-run double in the ninth inning to drive home former Naturals Moustakas and Wil Myers.  Myers has picked up where he left off last fall in the Arizona Fall League this spring.  He has gone 2-for-4 so far this spring and scored twice in just two games.  Myers is trying to make the step up to Triple-A Omaha to start the 2012 season.  Derrick Robinson, who is trying to make that same step, also had a big day Monday for the Royals delivering a two-run single in yesterday’s game.

The Royals are in action Tuesday playing in two games (split squad) against San Diego and Cleveland.  The minor league affiliates will begin playing spring games next Thursday March 15th.  The last minor league game this spring will be March 28th.

Naturals/Texas League Notes

Naturals in Other CampsJuan Abreu (2009) allowed one run in one inning of work so far this spring for the Astros.  Abreu, who made his major league debut with Houston last season is trying to make the team in a relief role.  Angel Sanchez (2008) is in camp with Houston as a non-roster invitee but has yet to see any game action for the Astros.  Kila Ka’aihue (2008) has gone 2-for-10 thus far in three games for the Oakland Athletics.  He is competing for playing time at first base and designated hitter with Daric Barton and former Texas leaguer Chris Carter (Midland, 2009).  Ka’aihue is out of options, and must make the big league roster or be exposed to waivers prior to being sent to the minor leagues.  Jeff Fulchino (2008) made his debut for the Nationals this spring tossing a scoreless inning March 4 against Houston.  Other former Naturals in spring training this season include a trio of players who are in camp with the Atlanta Braves, Dusty Hughes (2008), first baseman Ernesto Mejia (2010), and outfielder Jordan Parraz (2009).  Parraz has gone 2-for-4 with an RBI so far this spring, while Mejia is 1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.  Hughes made his first appearance on March 3 throwing a scoreless inning against the Detroit Tigers while surrendering a pair of hits.  Former Natural Jeff Bianchi, who is in major league camp with the Milwaukee Brewers, made the highlight real last night tripping on two different occasions while trying to score on a botched fly ball in a game versus the San Francisco Giants. Bianchi had singled off Giants’ ace reliever Sergio Romo.

Transactions:  Former Natural Dan Cortes failed his physical last week.  This voided his minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, making him a free agent.  Longtime Natural Blake Johnson was signed to a minor league deal by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday March 2nd.   Johnson is the only player to suit up for Northwest Arkansas in all four seasons of their existence.  This season the right-hander will either find himself at Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque.

Other Injury Notes: Felipe Paulino experienced some tightness in his hamstring last week during camp, but it does not appear to be something that will be a long term issue at this point.  Manny Pina is expected to miss the rest of spring training as he recovers from knee surgery, while Paulo Orlando who is recovering from surgery for a sports hernia is expected to be back soon for the Royals.

Check nwanaturals.com for our Spring Training Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in spring training as well as cover other baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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Breaking Down The Royals Rotation

We are slowly approaching Spring Training 2012 when the Kansas City Royals start arriving on February 20th in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals will be looking to improve on their 71-91 record from last year and hope to challenge for the division title this season. Kansas City certainly will have a better chance, this year than the past few seasons, at pushing the rest of the AL Central for the division title with its young and talented core of players beginning to make their impact on the major leagues.

As the Royals roster is constructed currently, I see this team in the 75-83 win range. This is mainly due to the starting rotation and that the team is still very young. The 2012 Royals team will look similar to 2011 with only a few changes:

The Royals lineup and bench will have a good balance of veterans and young players and manager Ned Yost will continue to try to get to most out of every player to have a sniffing chance at the division crown. If opening day was today the Royals lineup should look something like this:

  1. LF Alex Gordon
  2. 2B Johnny Giavotella
  3. 1B Eric Hosmer
  4. DH Billy Butler
  5. RF Jeff Francoeur
  6. 3B Mike Moustakas
  7. C Salvador Perez
  8. CF Lorenzo Cain
  9. SS Alcides Escobar

Bench: C Brayan Pena, IF Chris Getz, IF Yuniesky Betancourt, OF Mitch Maier, OF Jarrod Dyson or IF Kevin Kouzmanoff

This is all pre-spring training and there is plenty of time for things to develop and change. I would imagine Yost will go with 14 position players and 11 pitchers but he certainly could use the extra pitcher with the current Royals rotation. It will be interesting to watch how the bench battles develop – one or two reserve outfielders and two or three reserve infielders.

Now, let’s compare the Royals rotation and closer situation to the rest of the AL Central:

Chicago Cleveland Detroit Kansas City Minnesota
1 John Danks (8-12 4.33) Ubaldo Jimenez (10-13 4.68) Justin Verlander (24-5 2.40) Luke Hochevar (11-11 4.68) Carl Pavano (9-13 4.30)
2 Gavin Floyd (12-13 4.37) Fausto Carmona (7-15 5.25) Doug Fister (11-13 2.83) Bruce Chen (12-8 3.77) Francisco Liriano (9-10 5.09)
3 Phil Humber (9-9 3.75) Justin Masterson (12-10 3.21) Max Scherzer (15-9 4.43) Jonathan Sanchez (4-7 4.26) Scott Baker (8-6 3.14)
4 Chris Sale (2-2 2.79) Josh Tomlin (12-7 4.25) Rick Porcello (14-9 4.75) Felipe Paulino (4-10 4.46) Nick Blackburn (7-10 4.49)
5 Jake Peavy (7-7 4.92) Derek Lowe (9-17 5.05) Jacob Turner (0-1 8.53) Danny Duffy (4-8 5.64) Brian Duensing (9-14 5.23)
CL Matt Thornton Chris Perez Jose Valverde Joakim Soria Joel Zumaya


It should be clear that Detroit and Cleveland are a definite 1 and 2 in terms of pitching with Kansas City, Minnesota and Chicago battling for third and beyond. The Royals bullpen was a surprising strong point last season and should be solid once again. Kansas City can certainly claim to have the top bullpen or #2 in the AL Central right now just based on last year’s numbers and player histories.

In order for Kansas City to have any shot at a division title run a few things need to happen: the bats need to continue to improve on last season with another year of experience under their belt, the bullpen to dominate with everyone returning along with new flame-thrower Broxton joining the crew, the rotation will need to prove the doubters wrong with quality starts keeping the bats in the game to get to the strong pen to close it out, and, of course, a little luck. Easier said than done, right? Hurry up spring.

Follow me on twitter at @mstreeter06

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Royals Sign Kouzmanoff

Contract includes invitation to Major League Spring Training

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 14, 2012 — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has agreed to terms with third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff on a minor league contract for the 2012 season.  The contract includes an invitation to Royals Major League Spring Training camp in Surprise, Ariz<

The 30-year-old Kouzmanoff (KOOZ-mah-nahf) combined to play 73 games for the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies in 2011, batting .235 with seven home runs, 33 RBI and 24 runs scored.  The right-handed hitter is a career .255 batter with 85 home runs and 361 RBI over six Major League seasons with the Indians (2006), Padres (2007-09), A’s (2010-11) and Rockies (2011).

He is a career .279 hitter with a .453 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.  The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is known as a strong defender, leading all N.L. third baseman with a .990 fielding percentage in 2009, and averaged nearly 19 home runs a season from 2007-2010.

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